My heart has been touched by compassion once again. Tonight we tipped a pizza delivery girl $6,684 for delivering an extra large pepperoni pizza. When I say we, I mean about 1,600 of God’s people gathered at Southwest Church in Palm Desert for the Thrive Conference. We heard a little of her story since her boss was in attendance at the conference. An emigrant from El Salvador, Anna faithfully provides for her four children, one of whom has recently faced some medical difficulties and was facing yet another surgery. The phone call was made, the offering buckets were passed around, and we all anticipated this wonderful moment. Her boss made sure she was the one assigned the delivery.
At the end of the meeting, Anna was ushered into the auditorium with the pizza. An interpreter helped explain why we collected a tip for her, mainly, that she had value in God’s eyes and we wanted to express that love to her. They brought out a big metal bucket with a gallon sized zip lock bag stuffed full of the cash. She wept. We all wept. I was ruined, so touched by this unmerited act of love and kindness that I couldn’t stop weeping. I just sat there stunned, unable to speak or move for 15 minutes after the meeting was over.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been broken up over an act of kindness. I shared about this in one of my earliest blogs, On Unconditional Love. Seeing the beauty of grace is more than I can bear – it tears me apart every time. About every story of adoption does me in. Robertson McQuilkin’s Resignation Speech, leaving his post to better serve his wife who was suffering from Alzheimers. The betrayed lover forgiving her spouse and the gradual healing of their marriage. Joseph’s story (Genesis 37-50), the account of his kindness and forgiveness towards his brothers who sold him into slavery. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption.
One week ago, in Mexico, I fought back tears as I handed over the keys of a brand new house to Alexandro and his family on behalf of a team from Trinity who spent two days building it for them. This was one of three loft houses Trinity people financed, assembled in our parking lot and sent 98 people to build on site for three families in the outskirts of Ensenada, BC, Mexico.
Compassion like this is what Jesus said is not only part of his greatest commandment, but it is the mark to the world that we are his disciples. It brings glory to the Father and it brings joy to both those who are showing it and receiving it. Everyone wins.
Watching the Olympics, I often cry as an athlete or team takes the gold for their country. It’s the dream realized – all that work, all that investment and the glorious payoff. It’s the glory of the win. The media always points the camera to the mom and dad. Perhaps that’s why I cry in those huge moments where compassion is on display. It’s the win for God the Father – the beautiful display of Christ’s love through his disciples. As a worship leader, I believe this is corporate worship at its best.
Compassion is the heart of God. Not only that, if you’re looking for a definition of love, the Bible gives one. God is love. (1 John 4:8). Love is not just the heart of God; it is the very essence of God. Every act of love expressed through generosity, commitment, sacrifice, service, and forgiveness points to the one act of Jesus Christ on the cross. “This is how we know what love is. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
So, people of God, let’s rise up and unleash compassion in our church, and reach the world with the love that God has shown to us and yearns to show to them.